Your Authentic Voice

Your effectiveness as a leader depends on your voice.

Your voice is your uniqueness that makes you stand out from the crowd. Whether that voice is expressed in writing, public speaking, or influencing leadership decisions you will die on the vine or fade into oblivion without it.

A renowned photographer friend of mine tells of a time when she shared some of her best landscape photographs with mentor. After scanning the photos for a while the mentor said,

“These photographs are very beautiful. However, where are you, your unique voice in each of them?”

The characteristics of your voice are,


One of my favorite movie scenes is in the Mel Brooks movie “Blazing Saddles”. In one of the last scenes, as the sheriff rides out of town, he pontificates to the crowd

 I was just walking down the street when I heard a voice behind me say, “Reach for it, mister!” … Crowd: [in unison] BULLSHIT!

A voice is not a pose or mask intended to impress others. It comes from the center of our being. If we are angry we regulate but do not hide it. If we are ambivalent about a decision we honestly tell others that we do not know. People see through any façade we present in a heartbeat.

The key to having an effective voice is to have it as closely aligned to your personhood as possible. Mary Karr writes of the style of ones voice “The writer doesn’t choose these styles so much as he/she is born to them, based on who he/she is and how he/she has experienced the past”

Your voice is a display of your history and truth. It is also the presentation of

All of You

From the very moment you walk into a room, open your mouth, or the first line of your writing your voice comes through loud and clear.

What people need is to see all of you. Both the beautiful and beastly (within reason) side of you is needed to capture the attention and imagination of others. Demonstrating the good, bad, and ugly parts of yourself shows you to be human like the rest of the crowd.

Your voice, like your fingerprints, is one of a kind.

An authentic voice is when you speak from the heart—when you speak your truth to another’s truth. That voice is made up of many parts of you. It includes: your cultural background and perspective, what you value (e.g. honesty and humility), your unique personality style (e.g. a quirky sense of humor), and the ability to adapt a message that you know well to different audiences.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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